In an era when the spectrum of gender and sexuality has become vibrant and inclusive, how does the new normal affect parents? For Helene, an outspoken mother in New York, her family has become complicated enough that she finds herself in a support group. From a lesbian daughter to a son who adores BDSM “scat play” her acceptance is strained to the maximum.
Barbara, an enthusiastic crafter who can be found with a box of glue guns and yarn at all times, had a gay son who was claimed by HIV at a young age, before she was able to work through her personal prejudices. Into the mix comes a new mother, Joann, who wants the best for her baby, no matter what that means, as long as he avoids a dull mundane life.
The opening act features tight, engaging monologues that respectfully satirize the challenges facing parents whose children are not cisgender. Thea Rhiannon’s long-suffering Helene navigates a passive-aggressive character with fascinating poise and a consistent accent. Noel Yates as Barbara captures the bubbly conviction of an avid crafter, eager to “create something worth dusting.” Despite static blocking by director John Rowan, the women offer captivating narratives that give insight into the challenges of motherhood.
Adding sparkle in personality and attire, Mr. Charles (Nick Charles) appears as the host of an early morning cable TV show “Too Gay.” His good-natured responses to fan mail are diverting and he does not feel the need to conform to societal expectations, including from the gay community. His assistant, Shane (John Rowan), appears in a dizzying variety of costumes, from masked Zorro to army fatigues. Shane’s sweet eagerness and carefree dancing keeps the play light-hearted.
In the second act, Paul Rudnick’s writing falters. The story becomes contrived and loses cohesion, trailing off with characters awkwardly rambling about shopping at Century 21. While it explains the play’s title, the sense of purpose and dynamism is lost.
“The New Century” showcases the strength of charismatic monologues, and openly discusses LGBTQA family concerns in a comedic, loving manner. Its weak denouement aside, this is an intriguing production.
The New Century
Presented by Pegasus Theater Company through November 25, 2018
Fri/Sat at 7:30pm, Sun at 2:00pm
Photos from Pegasus Theater Company.